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Indiana University

A Warm Welcome from a Longtime Friend

Shawn Reynolds, , IU director of international partnerships and strategic initiatives, accepts a gift from Wu Ping, vice president of Zhejiang University

It only seemed appropriate that a light, misty rain fell on Hangzhou briefly in advance of Monday morning’s “Symposium on U.S.-China Business Cooperation in the 21st Century,” at Zhejiang University.

Hangzhou itself means “the city reached by water,” and it would be hard to overlook the significance of water in this Eastern province city.

In their introductory remarks, several of our Chinese hosts touched on how water is important to life and progress here and how it serves as a good metaphor for the strong relationship between Indiana University and Zhejiang University.

Ties between the two universities can be traced back to about 1980, when China again opened its doors to the West after years of isolation. Howard Mehlinger, then dean of the IU School of Education, took an interest in this institution far away from the capital in Beijing, where few students had a grasp of the English language.

In October 1982, Mehlinger and another IU scholar visited Hangzhou University (now a part of Zhejiang University) and an agreement of understanding was signed a month later. Over the years, the relationship has continued to thrive amidst the ebb and flow of bi-lateral relations between the U.S. and China and in 2007 IU President Michael A. McRobbie reaffirmed IU’s commitment to cooperation between the two institutions.

In his remarks, Shawn Reynolds, IU director of international partnerships and strategic initiatives, took note of the importance of this relationship to IU and brought President McRobbie’s personal greetings and congratulations.

The "Official" conference photo

“With this agreement, which we have had for in place for close to 30 years now, there’s absolutely no question that this is a very successful and deep relationship,” Reynolds said. “It is our oldest faculty and student exchange with any university in China, and countless graduate students and faculty members have passed through this exchange, spending time on the campus both here at Hangzhou and also in Bloomington.

“I think that our office would encourage each of our faculty that are here today to look for deeper relationships with their partners at Zhejiang University,” he added.

Reynolds also noted Zhejiang Province’s close relationship with the state of Indiana, and their deepening economic and business ties.  He first came here with former Indiana Gov. Robert Orr in 1988, when an agreement was signed between the state of Indiana and the province, as a representative of the international trade department.

“I am personally excited to see the end result of these relationships, and that we’ve come so far,” he said.

Providing ample examples of these close ties was Professor Shi Jinchuan, head of the faculty of social science at Zhejiang University.  He noted that faculty from here have studied at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at IU Bloomington, founded by Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom and her husband Vincent, and published their writings into Chinese.

He went on to relate that his sister and her family lived in Indiana for seven years and that his brother-in-law got his doctorate from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and worked at the Indy law firm of Ice Miller. He even visited IU in 1993 as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago.

Conference planner Scott Kennedy, director of the IU Research Center on Chinese Politics and Business, himself is making his fourth visit to Zhejiang University, and spoke of IU’s goal “to build as many bridges” and foster better mutual understanding.

The night before, the vice president of Zhejiang University hosted a banquet for the IU delegation and over the course of today, two other top officials from this institution welcomed us personally.

Professor Yu Xunda, vice director of the division of social sciences at Zhejiang University wrapped up the opening session by translating a phrase from Chinese, which simply means, “How happy we are to meet friends from afar.”

We are too.


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